To describe the world more fully is to change it. To let the world go undescribed is, in some way, not to know it, at one’s own peril. ‘The Age of Innocence’ opens in ‘a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.’ In the course of the novel, Wharton puts those ‘real things’ into thought and writing….In a way, every age is an age of innocence, because every age has its own unsaid, half-known truths, which are articulated more clearly over time. Even after the particular circumstances described in a novel have vanished, we can still recognize ourselves and our lives in them.
Elif Batuman wrote about Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence for last week’s Sunday NYT Books section. Lovely stuff.